Minorities and the cause for Pakistan

Published: March 7, 2012

ISLAMABAD: First of all, bravo to Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy for his article of March 5 titled “Run for your life”. While the writer painted a factual picture of the general state of affairs, he conveniently made some disturbing assumptions on behalf of a people that to date, are fighting for their right of ‘Pakistaniyat’.

I will be surprised if your readers have not heard of Jogendra Nath Mandal and his role in the freedom struggle. A leader of the Scheduled Castes, he fought for the cause of Pakistan along with the Muslim League. Born in Bengal he was chosen to be Pakistan’s first law minister.

Then there was SP Singha, who was a speaker of the Punjab Assembly when the resolution for Pakistan was moved. Short of three votes, he rallied the Christian members to vote in favour of Jinnah. And who can forget Samuel Martin Burke. Mr Burke was the magistrate of the Election Petition Commission of Punjab in 1945 and moved 16 petitions in favour of the Muslim League, all to the chagrin of the Indian National Congress and Sir Hayat’s Unionists who wanted a United India. These petitions eventually won Pakistan’s case. After partition, Mr Burke chose Pakistan as his native country. To date he is revered as a pioneer of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

These are but a few names that shared Jinnah’s dream of Pakistan and were instrumental in leading thousands of Hindus and Christians to join his cause. Whoever thinks that it’s only the Muslims who migrated on August 13, 1947, needs a history lesson. Several thousand non Muslims left the Ganges behind believing that Pakistan was their true calling. My family is included in this.

Where is it that we have fallen short of patriotism or denied service to our country? Christian, Hindu and Parsi soldiers have fought and accepted martyrdom as recently as the operations in Swat. They have been war heroes and prisoners of war enduring harrowing tortures for the country. Who can forget the Cecils, Cyrils, Anthony Chauhdrys, Mervyn Middlecoats, Peter Christies, Brig. Golwalas, Nazir Latifs, Justin Sharafs and many others like them who answered the call of ‘labaik’.

Since independence, missionary schools and hospitals have opened up their doors to every Pakistani without difference. Only a fraction of Pakistan’s total Christian population has emigrated abroad. The rest has stayed put. So why does the writer see that we were never “enthusiastic” about the creation of Pakistan?

I’m sorry that the writer, of all people, would say something like this.

Danielle Sharaf

Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2012.

Reader Comments (5)

  • Sunny
    Mar 7, 2012 - 10:25PM

    Very well written!!

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  • s
    Mar 8, 2012 - 1:05AM

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JogendraNathMandal
    Jogendra Nath Mandal (Urdu: جوگيندرا ناتھ ماندل; Bengali: যোগেন্দ্রনাথ মণ্ডল; January 29, 1904 — October 5, 1968), was one of the central and leading Founding Fathers[1][2] of modern state of Pakistan, and legislator serving as country’s first minister of law and labor, and also was second minister of commonwealth and Kashmir affairs.
    Jogendranath had made common cause with the Muslim League in their demand[citation needed] for Pakistan, hoping that the Scheduled Castes would be benefited from it and joined the first cabinet in Pakistan as the Minister of Law and Labour. He, however, realized his folly in 1950 when thousands of lower caste Hindus were massacred in East Bengal generating a wave of refugees to India. He himself fled to India and submitted his resignation to Liaquat Ali Khan, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan.

    When Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan publicly supported a proposal to make Islam the official state religion, Mandal denounced it as a rejection of Jinnah’s secular vision for Pakistan. Mandal continued to attack the proposed Objectives Resolution, which outlined an Islamic state as completely disregarding the rights of religious and ethnic minorities. He grew increasingly isolated, and came increasingly under verbal and physical attack; fleeing to Kolkata, he sent his letter of resignation in October 1950(dated 8 October 1950). In his resignation letter, he openly assailed Pakistani politicians for disregarding the rights and future of minorities, as well as the vision of Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

    I would not cite him as an example.

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  • Deb
    Mar 8, 2012 - 5:23AM

    @Danielle Sharaf
    Jogendra Nath Mandal was naive at best and a fool at the worst.Fortunately for him he didn’t take long to realise his folly and fled to India to save his life.I have enough respect for a person who swam aginst the tide, but I can’t say the same about his assesment of the then prevailing political situation.But for Pakistan to gloat about him is a sick joke.
    A few of us visit history.

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  • zehra
    Mar 8, 2012 - 12:28PM

    honey you wrote a blog too on the same topic,what he meant was that where muslims aren ot even safe from each other what can be said for the minorites, it was not a question of patrioticsm

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  • S
    Mar 8, 2012 - 7:58PM

    A lot of Hindu Bengalis were opposed to Gandhi and Congress. This included the two illustrious Bose brothers with Subhas Bose, at one time more popular than Gandhi himself, strongly opposed to Gandhi’s policy of non-violence. Jogendranath Mandal was someone the Bose brothers liked and encouraged. It’s no wonder that after Subhas Bose’s humilitation in Congress in the late thirties Mandal would be even more strongly opposed to Congress. His close association with Ambedkar also ensured he had strong dislike for Gandhi. Jinnah could use all this to his advantage, just like he assembled every sect of Muslims Sunni Shia Ahmedi etc under one banner and for a common cause. But while most Sunnis Shias Ahmedis did want Pakistan as a separate homeland Mandal was just an exception among the scheduled castes, an odd man out, even Ambedkar, his political mentor, never thought of defecting to Pakistan. Mandal’s case was just a Bengali’s acute distaste for Gandhi and Congress and Jinnah’s successful exploitation of that sentiment with naive and impossible promises. It cannot be generalized and no wonder Mandal soon realized his folly when thousands of lower caste Hindus were massacred in the new state of Pakistan. He retreated to Calcutta and later died in complete obscurity.

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